Saturday, June 27, 2009

Degree of Satisfaction

I'm serious about this writing stuff. I do want to be a real writer! Not just someone that writes. I want to make a living at it. I want to sell books. But first I've got to get a foot in the door. I've been thinking a lot about my resume... What do I have that says I can write? I don't have a Journalism degree, or any degree for that matter. I've never had anything published aside from letters to the editor. So I've been thinking about going back to school.

I'm a drop out... many times over. Back in the 80's I attended a community college, pursuing a degree in Electronical Engineering. I made the Dean's List and enjoyed my classes, but ultimately decided it really wasn't the career for me. I couldn't see myself doing this type of thing day after day for a big chunk of my life. Along came a job from GM, so I took a break from school. I swore I'd go back someday, and I did... again and again. I really wanted to earn a degree. It was important to me.

I knew health careers were a good choice, so I thought about a career as a Physical Therapist Assistant. I started taking classes full-time while working full-time and being a single mom. It was tough. I remember carrying my chemistry book around at work, cramming at every break. But when I got bumped to a different shift, it was more than I could deal with. It seemed every couple of weeks my schedule was changing. I couldn't work my classes around that! I dropped out once again.

Our union hall started holding satellite classes from the college. The times for the classes were set for right before or after shift times. It was doable. Some were labor relations type courses, but I also took some accounting, government, speech... basic all-around stuff.

Through the years I accumulated a lot of credit hours. I'm a math whiz, so I took a lot of math courses. Psych... I'm there. I love writing, so the English Comps were a breeze. (I'll get back to the Composition classes...) But I was making a good living and the desire to finish my degree shrank a bit. I realized that I had wanted to prove something to my family, and that no longer mattered to me. I still wanted it for myself, but not enough to push me.

Finally, I earned an apprenticeship through GM as a Tool and Die Maker. That required taking further courses from the college. So I aced drafting, machine classes, more math (the easy stuff like geometry & trig).

Life got a little crazy for me through these years, and the desire to graduate faded. I had
accumulated way more than the required credit hours for an Associates Degree, but in what? They don't have a jack-of-all-trades degree. What's that you say? Oh, they do? A.I.S. Associate of Individual Study. Do tell!

Back to the Comp classes... Just like in high school, my instructors were always urging me to enter the writing contests. I never did. I don't know why. Wouldn't that look good on a query? Something that said, 'Hey, she's not bad!" A notch for my belt.

I went online and searched their website, thinking of enrolling in a web-based course. There are a couple of creative writing classes that I hadn't taken. This time I will enter the contests. I need to brush up on some basic stuff too. I realize I have more than a full plate right now, so I'd only do one class per quarter.

That's when I stumbled on the A.I.S. degree...

Even though I have met the requirements I don't know if they'll count all the old credit hours. We're talking about going back decades! Next week I will call. I'm not going to get my hopes up on them accepting the old credits, but you never know...

Alumni. Has a nice ring, doesn't it?


SquirrelQueen said...

Sounds like a good plan, looking forward to hearing how it comes out.

Oh, our fancy farmers' market. We are in the middle of wine country and get tons of tourists this time of year. Everything gets dressed up for their arrival.

Al said...

What do you have that makes you write well?

Your heart, the memories within you, that what makes YOU a good writer.

Do what makes you happy!


Al said...

What do you have that makes you write well?

Your heart, the memories within you, that what makes YOU a good writer.

Do what makes you happy!


Lesley said...

Good for you! That's so exciting. You sound like such a goal-oriented person. I really admire that.

From my experience, it's actually more important to have writing samples than it is to have a degree. Not to discourage you from pursuing that degree! But keep your eyes open for opportunities to get small projects "published" - even if you don't get paid for them.

My 2 cents for the day!

Sharon McPherson said...

Hi! Thanks for your comment on my blog, I feel alot better now thinking sister /brother as opposed to couple. Ha Ha.

Yes I will follow your author blog too. In a way you remind me of me as I call myself jack-of-all-trades master of none (though I may be being unfair to myself). I never focus on one career path but several and only in last few years have managed to at least keep it all writing, artsy related.

As Lesely (above comment) said being goal-orientated is actually 50% of the success.

Look forward to following your blogs. :)

Lesley said...

Lily, have you ever thought of writing greeting cards? As I've said on my blog, that's a market that I'm just starting to explore. If you have poems already written, they might be a good starting point.

If you would like to email me at, we could probably communicate a little faster. I can send along some submission guidelines and maybe a few more tips! I love to talk about writing.

Leave a Legacy said...

Lily, You have accomplished so much. It sounds as though you are very educated. Sometimes having the degree is extremely overrated. Have you every tried writing articles for magazines? I don't know anything about that procedure, but it could be a little quicker than getting a whole book finished. I could be wrong. But keep pluggin' away. You're a very smart and talented woman, you'll make it happen.

Chuck Dilmore said...

i think you're already there...
you are a Writer!

just decide what form you want to take
and go there like you have always
intended to go there!

i started my first book when i was 49.
9 months later, i'm this close to
seeing it come to reality.

a great journey!
and i'm happy to share yours & mine
as Writers!